Making a meadow garden
Creating a naturalistic meadow that fits together as a cohesive whole means carefully working out in advance the ratio of different plants – especially when you’re planting on a grand scale. Landscape architect Peter White used a minimum of 25 repeating plants per swathe of meadow, creating a soft, impressionistic feel that has a calming effect. “When designing large landscapes using masses of ornamental grasses and perennials, I think about immersion in a scene of rapidly changing structure, colours and movement throughout the seasons,” says Peter.
Good botanical knowledge is also important in creating a successful tapestry of plants. Familiarity with the heights and habits of each cultivar, enabled Peter to space the plants with their mature height in mind. For most plants this was around 60-90cm, while for the large grasses a space of around 1.2-1.5m was left between individual plants. Peter also ensured the paths between the beds were a minimum of 1.5m wide so that the paths never become completely swallowed up by the swathes of grasses when the meadow begins to gain height and volume.
Towards the east of the house is an area where the lawn is wider and more frame-like between the beds. Here the grasses mix with small shrubs and low-growing perennials chosen because they are hardy and able to hold their own in competition with the grass roots. The flowering perennials, in colours that reflect the hues of distant woods and mountains, add textural weave to the plumes of ornamental grasses, and neatly separate the tall grasses from the mown lawn. “The goal,” says Peter, “is to glide through the garden, make it loose.”
PERENNIALS NEED TO HOLD THEIR OWN IN COMPETITION WITH THE GRASS ROOTS
82 Tall clumps of grasses, including‘Gracillimus’ and low-growing shrubs and perennials fill irregularly shaped island borders, echoing both the colours and shapes of the distant mountains sinensis Miscanthus